73188 - Microbiology And Biotechnology For Depollution M

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2019/2020

Learning outcomes

The aim of the course is to provide the students with the fundamental knowledge for the comprehension of the composition and role of microbial communities in different natural habitats (in particular the contaminated ones) and the microbiological and biotechnological aspects connected to the scale-up and management of environmental biotech processes as well as of biological processes for the remediation of contaminated waters, soils and sediments.

Course contents

Requirements/Prior knowledge

A prior knowledge and understanding of organic chemistry is suggested to attend with profit this course.

This knowledge can be aquired through the Course "Organic Compounds and Environmental Monitoring", which is proposed at the third year of the First cycle degree/Bachelor in Environmental Engineering at the University of Bologna.

Fluent spoken and written Italian is a necessary pre-requisite: all lectures and tutorials will be in Italian. Some suggested literature will be in English.

Course Contents

Structure and functions of the living matter and biomolecules of major interest. Structure and functions of the prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. Virus.

Enzymes: structure, functions, classification and nomenclature. Enzymatic reactions, their rate and parameters that may affect/control them. Enzyme inhibition and regulation mechanisms. DNA and RNA: structure and their role in the replication, transcription and translation of genetic information. Regulation of proteins synthesis.

Classification of living organisms. Main features, cellular organization and physiology of bacteria, fungi, algae and protozoa occurring in environments and/or applied in the environmental remediation.

Microbial media: nutrients required and general composition of synthetic and natural, liquid and solid media, for microorganisms of environmental interest. Mixed cultures, co-cultures and pure cultures and conventional and molecular procedures for their characterization. Isolation of tailored pure cultures. Methods for microbial culture conservation.

Microbial growth in batch, fed-batch e continuous cultivation conditions and kinetics description of the processes. Physical and chemical agents affecting/controlling the microbial growth. Fundamentals and applications of the sterilization procedures applied in the environmental biotechnology processes.

Chemical compounds released into the environment: their classification, source and fate as well as their environment impact.

Biotransformation of biogenic compounds occurring/released in the environment: anabolic and catabolic pathways. Biogenic organic matter metabolism in aerobic and anaerobic habitats and environmental processes.

Aerobic respiration: the two glycolysis pathways, the Krebs cycle and the oxidative phosphorylation. Examples of environmental relevant microorganisms living by respiring aerobically biogenic organic compounds. Anaerobic metabolism: biochemistry of the nitrate-reduction, Fe(III)-reduction, sulphate-reduction, HCO3— reduction (methanogenesis and acetogenesis) and main features of microorganisms using such anaerobic respiration routes. Fermentation of carbohydrates and proteins occurring in the environment and features of the main microorganisms responsible for them. Fermentation and anaerobic respiration processes associated to the anaerobic digestion of organic matter. Metabolism of biogenic inorganic compounds in aerobic habitats or treatment processes, such as nitrification, S° or S= -oxidation, Fe(II) oxidation and industrial microbial leaching and main features of microorganisms responsible for them. Introduction on the CO2 autotrophic fixation.

Sources and fate of main organic and inorganic xenobiotic compounds in contaminated soils, sediments and waters. Microorganisms mainly involved in their biotransformation and detoxification and biochemical-molecular mechanisms responsible for their adaptation to the polluted environment.

Biodegradation pathways for aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons, chlorinated and not, in aerobic and anaerobic polluted environments. Enrichment of pollutant-degrading bacteria from contaminated matrices and cultures characterization. Basis of biotransformation on heavy metals in polluted sites.

Biotechnology for the remediation of contaminated sites: basis and specific microbiological and technological aspects related to bioremediation ex-situ and in situof soils polluted with organic xenobiotic compounds. Myco-, phyto- and rhizo-remediation: general aspects and perspectives.

Introduction to the main strategies for the remediation of contaminated sediments.


Nelson & Cox (2003) Introduzione alla biochimica di Lehninger. III edizione. Zanichelli, Bologna.

Madigan et al. (2003) Brock-Biologia dei Microrganismi. Vols. 1 e 2. Casa Editrice Ambrosiana. Milano.

Rittmann B.E., McCarty P.L. (2001)Environmental Biotechnology: principles and applications. McGraw-Hill Higher education, New York, USA.

Barberi et al. (2008)Microbiologia Ambientale ed elementi di Ecologia Microbica. Casa Editrice Ambrosiana, Milano

Teaching methods

Class lectures

Assessment methods

Achievements will be assessed by means of a final oral exam, through which the knowledge level acquired by the student on the topics covered in the class, his/her ability to present them clearly and with command of language and to discuss them critically will be evaluated.

Office hours

See the website of Giulio Zanaroli